‘Stand up for our planet’ plea by 350.org founder Bill McKibben


350.org founder Bill McKibben’s message to New Zealand. Video: Greenpeace NZ

Environmentalist Bill McKibben today appealed to New Zealanders to take part in peaceful civil disobedience to overthrow “radicalism”.

The American made the call in a video five days before citizens will participate in a Greenpeace-organised mass demonstration of peaceful civil disobedience at the annual petroleum conference at SkyCity in Auckland.

It will be the first time in New Zealand that Greenpeace has invited the general public to take part in a mass civil disobedience action.

McKibben, who founded global climate change organisation 350.org, recorded the video in support of the action on Monday.

In a personal message to the New Zealanders taking part, McKibben said:

“We thank you in advance for being willing to stand up peacefully and non-violently to the most violent forces on our planet.”

He said New Zealand was one of the most “beautiful places in the world” but now stood as a country that needed to get serious about the climate crisis.

‘Lots of sweet things’
“Everybody went off to Paris [COP21 climate conference]. Everybody said lots of sweet things. Everybody pounded each other on the back about what great people they were,” he said.

“[But] if you come home from Paris and say ‘nothing is changing – we’re still going to mine coal, we’re still going to go drill in the deep blue sea for oil, we’re still going to frack’, then you didn’t get the message.”

On the back of the Paris Climate Conference last December, New Zealand Prime Minister John Key said he had no intention of scaling back the search for fossil fuels.

McKibben is encouraging for New Zealanders considering using peaceful civil disobedience as a tactic for change.

“The point that you’re trying to get across I think, most importantly, is there’s nothing radical about what we’re talking about. All we’re talking about is trying to keep a world that works a little bit like the world worked for the last 10,000 years,” he said.

“The radicals [are the] oil companies and the government ministries that aid and abet that…[It’s] our job, with our bodies if need be, to slow down that radicalism…Civil disobedience is a powerful tactic – it needs to be done with a complete commitment to non-violence and peacefulness.”


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